Friday, September 27, 2013

Mandy Rice

Here's the recipe to the Mandy Rice that everyone has been asking for. This is the recipe that I have used for over 4 years, right from the time I braved to finally learn to cook a rice dish. 

You see, I grow up among good if not great cooks. Mom's Malay cooking is so good that I've been told not to even bother to have a(nother) go at Fish Head's curry. Dad's Bukhary Rice is legendary, he used to cook for hundreds of people, for weddings even, and people still ask him for it all the times. His dream of having a restaurant still lives on.

So I have big shoes to fill, and since I love cooking so much and I know I have to crave my own niche', cook things that I know that I don't have to compete with.

Cooking rice has always been an issue for me, I still can't figure out using your fingers to measure the water level. Yes, I use cup to measure rice and water level, even for plain white rice using the 1:1.5 rice to water ratio. So when I finally figure how to cook my very own Mandy Rice and after no less than seven times of experimenting, I finally had the guts to cook it for my dad's birthday. Even then, we told him that it's bought from a newly open restaurant. Only after getting his seal of approval that I admitted to cooking it. And guess what's his respond? "I hope people will still remember my Bukhary Rice".

In line with my mission to cook delicious wholesome food with minimum or no oil at all, this dish is cooked with absolutely no additional oil at all. What ever fat you see in the stock comes from the chicken that you use. So trim the fat from your chicken very well, otherwise you'd have an inch or so of oil on top of your stock, but you can always skim this off before adding the rice to the stock.

I know the biggest challenge for most when making Mandy Rice is in the dried spice preparation, so I've decided to do all the hard work of buying, sorting, cleaning, measuring and grinding the many many spices for you and offer them all in a spice mix from Athene Spice Lab.

To place your order for the Mandy Spice Mix, please go to Athene Spice Lab order page.

Have fun cooking with love.


Mandy Rice ala Athene

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken, quartered
  • 2 tsp Athene Spice Lab Mandy Spice Mix
  • 8 green chillies
  • 4 large onion / 150g shallots
  • 10-12 garlic pips
  • 60g coriander leaves, roots and stalk cleaned properly
  • 150ml plain yogurt
  • 1800ml water
  • 1kg basmati rice, soaked for 45 minutes and drained
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 1 tsp orange blossom (it’s a wonderful addition if you can find it) 
  • 5 drops of yellow food coloring
  • 1 aluminum pies foil
  • 1 small chuck of charcoal
  • 1tbsp of oil

Directions 


  1. Pound or grind the onion, garlic, chili and coriander leaves, stalk and roots.
  2. Add the AtheneSpice Lab Mandy Spice Mix to the ground onion mix and add to the yogurt.
  3. Rub all over the chicken. Marinate for at least two hours, preferably overnight in the fridge.
  4. Boil the chicken with the marinate in water, until the chicken are cooked.
  5. Remove the chicken from the stock, set aside and keeping it warm. 
  6. Measure the stock, it usually requires approximately about 1800ml for every kg of soaked basmati rice.
  7. Taste the stock, correct the flavor now, adding salt if required. Rule of thumb is that the stock need to be as salty as the sea water, but it’s all up to your taste.
  8. Reheat the stock until it’s boiling. Add the rice and stir the pot gently as not to break the rice grain, make sure no rice is stuck at the bottom of the pot.
  9. When the water is level with the rice, usually in about 8 minutes, stir the rice once more, drizzle with the rose water & orange blossom water (if using). This is also when you randomly drop the yellow food coloring to give the rice some color.
  10. Lower the heat to minimum, I usually place an old flat aluminum pot cover on the fire to really ensure an even and low heat distribution.
  11. Line the edges of the pot with moist cloth or towel before covering the pot to create a good seal. Set something heavy on top if you wish to create a vacuum-like environment.
  12. Leave to cook for about 25 minutes or until you can see some steam coming out from the edge of the pot.
  13. While waiting for the rice to cook, you can set the charcoal to ember. Place it in the aluminum pie foil. If you don’t have the pie foil, you can fashion one using regular aluminum foil, just make sure it’s double layered.
  14. When the rice is cooked, gently loosen up the rice.
  15. Place the foil on the rice in the pot, spoon over the oil. This will produce a lot of smoke that will give the rice a wonderful ‘cook-in-the-earth’ flavor. Cover the lid immediately and set aside until you are ready to serve, but no less than 15 minutes.
  16. Dish out the rice, placing the chicken on top of it. Serve with Salata Harra.



Note : 
  • I sometimes fry the chicken just before serving to add more flavor to it. The chicken will brown well real fast, so you can use high heat while frying, after all the chicken is already cooked. You can also drain the onion and chili mix after making the stock, squeezing out all the liquid and later you can fry it along with the chicken for an added crunch. 
  • Or just oven roast the chicken after boiling for a healthier crispy alternative.
  • You can also use the oil from frying the chicken when making the smoke pack for the rice. The smoke will be far more fragrant this way.  
  • Wash basmati rice with at least 3 change of water to properly clean it.
  • I can't remind people enough to handle the rice as gentle as possible while washing and soaking, the long grained basmati rice can be very fragile especially after washing and soaking. If you break them, you won't get the much coveted long grained mandy rice.
  • If you must have ghee in your Mandy rice, melt some ghee and drizzle over the rice before smoking the rice.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Blissfully peaceful

The garden looks lovely tonight. The breeze blowing through my hair, gently kissing my warm cheeks and the moon and stars looking like diamonds in the sky. And the smell of freshly mowed lawn? Blissfully heavenly.
Great for gathering my thoughts, taking stock of what's happening around me.
I could fall asleep right here right now, on this blanket of grass, under the bright shiny sky.

Is this the peace that everyone is talking about?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

He came to me after two days

He came to me after two days
Crying, complaining of a new love
Telling me
My fire started burning
I heard him but my mind was astray
I kept silent but my heart was a martyr

I always thought he'll complain after me
(after breaking up with her)
But he came to me with a new story
I missed my dream of pink
I always thought I'm the only one in his heart
Finally there was another one
Who came in a second and occupied his heart

He came to me after two days
Crying, complaining of a new love
Telling me
My fire started burning
I heard him but my mind was astray
I kept silent but my heart was a martyr

I didn't know what to say,
My words ran away from me
I left him and walked alone
And steps were despite me
It's like I'm in another world
Choked and non-conscious
But after what happened
I said again I'll let it for time

He came to me after two days
Crying, complaining of a new love
Telling me
My fire started burning
I heard him but my mind was astray
I kept silent but my heart was a martyr

O people can you see the injustice ?
Is this fair or unfair?
Oh from feeling's hurt
This pain is the most hurtful pain,
I advise you my heart to be patient
His love is an illusion
  
I grew up listening to this song, enjoying the music, not knowing what the song is all about, dad was always quite cryptic in his love songs translation, all I knew it was about a gal being left for someone else. But each time it never fail to make my eyes glisten with tears.
The song is Al Gani Ba'ad Youmain, sung by Egyptian songstress Samira Said who is Moroccan by birth. To date she the only person from the Arab world to have been in the Eurovision, representing Morocco in 1980.
Now I know the poetry behind the song, I remember the story of someone like the her of the song. And the more my eyes turn glassy when it plays on.